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Quod he; 'but and thow crye, or noyse make,
Or yf thou any creature awake,
Be thilke God that formed man on lyve,
This swerde thurgh thyn herte shall I ryve.'
And therwithalle unto hire throte he sterte,
And sette the swerde al sharpe unto hire herte.
No worde she spak, she hath no myghte therto,
What shal she sayne? hire witte ys al agoo!
Ryghte as a wolfe that fynt a lamb alloue,1
To whom shal she compleyne or make mone?
What? shal she fyghte with an hardy knyghtet
Wel wote men a woman hath no myghte.
What? shal she crye, or how shal she asterte,
That hath hire by the throte, with swerde at
She axeth grace, and seyde al that she kan.
'Ne wolt thou nat?' quod this cruelle man; 'As wisly Jupiter my soule save, I shal in the stable slee thy knave, And lay him in thy bed, and lowde crye, That I the fynde in suche avowtrye; And thus thou shalt be ded, and also lese Thy name, for thou shalt nat chese.' Thise Romaynes wyfes loveden so hire name At thilke tyme, and dredden so the shame That what for fere of sklaundre, and drede of dethe, She loste both attones wytte and brethe; And in a swowgh she lay, and wax so ded, Men myghten smyte of hire arme or hed, She feleth nothinge, neither foule ne feyra,
Tarqxiynyus, that art a kynges eyre, And sholdest as by lynage and by ryghte Doon as a lorde and a verray kuyghte,
1 'Like a white hind under the grype's sharp clawea."
Shakspeare—Rape of Lvcrtce. Annot. Ed., p. Ic2. The Fairfax MS. reads:—
'Right as a wolfe that fayneth a love allone." This is evidently a mere clerical error.
Why hastow doon dispite to chevalrye?1
Why hastow doon this lady vylanye?
Allas, of the thys was a vilenouse dede!
But now to the purpose; in the story I rede,
Whan he was goon al this myschaunce ys falle.
Thys lady sent after hire frendes alle,
Fader, moder, housbond, alle yfere,
And disshevelee with hire heere clere,
In habyte suche as wymmen used thoo
Unto the buryinge of hire frendes goo,
She sytte in halle with a sorowfull syghte.
Hire frendes axen what hire aylen myghte,
And who was dede, and she sytte aye wepynge.
A worde for shame ne may she forthe oute brynge,
Ne upon hem she durste nat beholde,
But atte laste of Tarquyny she hem tolde
This rewful case, and al thys thing horryble.
The woo to telle hyt were impossyble
That she and alle hire frendes made attones.
Al had folkes hertes ben of stones,
Hyt myghte have maked hem upon her rewe,
Hire herte was so wyfely and so trewe.
She sayde that for hire gilte ne for hire blame
Hire housbonde shulde nat have the foule name;
That nolde she nat suffren by no wey.
And they answerde alle unto hire fey,
That they forgave hyt hire, for hyt was ryghte.
Hit was no gilt; hit lay nat in hire myghte.
And seyden hire ensamples many oon.
But al for noghte, for thus she seyde anoon:
'Be as be may,' quod she, 'of forgyfynge;
I wol not have noo forgyft for nothinge.'
1 Shakspeare outdoes his great predecessor in the anachronism, representing Iiereditary coats-of-arms as being in use at this early period :— • Yea, though I die the scandal will survive, And be an eyesore in my golden coat; Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive, To cipher me, how fondly T did dote.'
Shakspeare—Rape of Lucrece. Annot. Edit., p. 9a
But pryvely she kaughte forthe a knyfe,
And therwithalle she rafte hire selfe hire lyfe;
And as she felle adoun she kast hire loke,
And of hire clothes yet hede she toke;
For in hire fallynge yet she hadde care,
Lest that hire fete or suche thynge lay bare.
So wel she loved clennesse, and eke trouthe!
Of hire had al the toune of Rome routhe,
And Brutus hath by hire chaste bloode swore,
That Tarquyny shulde ybanysshed be therfore,
And al hys kynne; and let the peple calle,1
And openly the tale he tolde hem alle;
And openly let cary hire on a bere
Thurgh al the toune, that men may see and here
The horryble dede of hire oppressyoun.
Ne never was ther kynge in Rome toun
Syn thilke day; and she was holden there
A seynt, and ever hire day yhalwed dere,
As in hire law. And thus endeth Lucresse
The noble wyf, Titus2 bereth witnesse.
I telle hyt, for she was of love so trewe,
Ne in hire wille she chaunged for no newe,
And in hire stable herte, sadde and kynde,
That in these wymmen men may all day fynde,
Ther as they kast hire herte, there it dwelleth.
For wel I wot, that Criste himselfe telleth,
That in Israel, as wyde as is the londe,
That so grete feythe in al the londe he ne fonde,
As in a woman;3 and this is no lye.
And as for men, loketh which tyrannye
They doon al day, assay hem who so lyste,
The trewest ys ful brotil for to triste.
EXPLICIT LEGENDA LUCRECIE, ROME, MARTIItlS.
1 'Caused the people to be assembled.' 2 Titus Livius.
'The allusion appears to be to the Syrophenician woman.—Matt, xv, rad Mark vii.
INCIPIT LEGENDA ADRIANS DE ATHENES.1
TUGE infernal Mynos, of Crete" king, "Now commeth thy lotte; now commestow on the rynge.
Nat oonly for thy sake writen is this story,
But for to clepe ageyn unto memory
Of Theseus the grete untrewe of love,
For which the goddys of hevene above
Ben wrothe, and wrecche han take for thy synne.
Be rede for shame! now I thy lyf begynne.
Mynos, that was the myghty kynge of Crete,
That wan an hundred citees strong and grete,
To scole hath sent hys sone Androgeus
To Athenes, of the which hyt happeth thus,
That he was slayne, lernynge phUosophie,
Ryghte in that citee, nat but for envye.
The grete Mynos of the whiche I speke,
His sones dethe ys come for to wreke.
Alcathoe" he besegeth harde and longe;
But natheles, the walles be so stronge,
And Nysus, that was kynge of that citee,
So chevalrouse, that lytel dredeth he;
Of Mynos or hys oste toke he no cure.
Till, on a day, befel an aventure,
That Nisus doghtre stode upon the walle,
And of the sege sawe the maner alle.
So hyt happed, that at a skarmysshynge,
She cast hire herte upon Mynos the kynge,
For hys beaute, and hys chevalerye,
So sore, that she wende for to dye.
And, shortly of this processe for to pace,
She made Mynos wynnen thilke place,
1 Ovid, Met. viii. s The Fairfax MS. reads Grece. 3 The Fairfax MS reads And the citee, but AlaUhot, which is another name for Megara, a city of Attica, of which Nisus was king, is probably right.
So that the citee was al at his wille,
To saven whom hym lyst, or elles spille.
But wikkidly he quytte her kyndenesse,
And let hire drenche in sorowe and distress^,
Ner that the goddys hadde of hire pite;
But that tale were to longe as now for me.
Athenes wanne this kyhge Mynos also,
As Alcathoe1 and other tounes mo;
And this theffect, that Mynos hath so dryven
Hem of Athenes, that they mote hym yiven
Fro yere to yere hire owne children dere
For to be slayne, as ye shal after here.
This Mynos hath a monstre, a wikked beste,
That was so cruelle that withoute areste,
Whanne that a man was broghte into hys presence,
He wolde him ete; ther helpeth no defence.
And every thridde yere, withouten doute,
They casten lotte, as hyt came about,
On ryche on pore, he most his sone take,
And of hys childe he moste present make
To Mynos, to save hym or to spille,
Or lat his beste devoure him at his wille.
And this hath Mynos doon right in dyspite,
To wreke hys sone was sette al his delyte;
And make hem of Athenes hys thralle
Fro yere to yere, while he lyven shalle;
And home he saileth whanne this toune ys wonne.
This wikked custome is so longe yronne,
Til of Athenes kynge Egeus,
Moste senden his owne sone Theseus,
Sith that the lotte is fallen hym upon,
To ben devoured, for grace is ther non.
And forth is lad this woful yonge knyghte
Unto the countree of kynge Mynos ful of myghte,
And in a prison fettred faste ys he,
Til the tyme he shulde yfreten be.
1 For AlcathoS here the Fairfax MS. reads Alcitca.